Brasilito Bridge Suddenly Opens!
Will it Put Dusty Detour Out of Business?

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After six months of construction and three days of rampant rumors, the brand-new, two-lane, $1.1 million Brasilito bridge unexpectedly opened to two-way traffic on Wednesday. ¡Fiesta!

No announcement was made, no news published — but when the workers removed the big orange barriers and waved the first cars through, the locals quickly flooded the 82-foot bridge with two-way traffic, unimpeded by any workers with flags. 

Short video of bridge opening below:

To be clear, we don’t know if this means the bridge will be open to all from now on. Authorities have issued no statement, and nobody knows what the new rules are or what schedule might apply. Attempts to reach the Municipality of Santa Cruz and the ADI of Brasilito for official info have been unsuccessful.

But seeing cars and motorcycles fly across that bridge seems almost like a dream, especially in Costa Rica, where every project is always late. And this one somehow opened a month early?!


Bridge over muddy water?

2 lane bridge in Brasilito
A new, 2-lane bridge spans the Zapote River, which runs right through the middle of downtown Brasilito. PHOTO: ING. JOSÉ MENA

A recent update on Aug. 29 from Info Noticias Guanacaste said the work on the bridge was 82% complete, citing the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad (CONAVI), the National Highway Council. 

“The job … has been under continuous construction from its beginning in February 2023 until this date without delays or interruptions, according to the established and approved work schedule, thanks to the active and responsible follow-through of the construction manager,” the update said.

Construction workers walking on the new bridge
Most of the new 2-lane bridge is already in place. PHOTO: MOPT

The base and the reinforced concrete slab of the bridge is already in place, with sidewalks, curbs and gutters currently being completed, the report says. Workers have installed the bridge’s railing and are currently working on rain and water remediation devices.  

Builders say they are also considering improved alternatives for property owners affected by the construction project, especially regarding access to their properties. They are looking at improved water diversion toward the estuary, the installation of additional pedestrian handrails, access ramps and more secure rail fittings. They also plan to install speed bumps around the school just north of the bridge. The hope is to deliver a much better product that was originally planned.

An earlier update on Aug. 16 from the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT) also said the work will be completed by early October, and will have a final cost of 605 million colones ($1.1 million).

This is the same budget and roughly the same time frame that was announced when the work began in late February. (At the time it was supposed to take 180 days, or six months, and now it looks to be stretching a little past seven months.)

View of the soon to be completed bridge in Brasilito
Vision of a soon-to-be Brasilito: You cross this bridge without stopping, and suddenly you’re at the ocean. PHOTO: ING. JOSÉ MENA

These projections mean the bridge should be ready in time for the high tourism season, which begins in late November and peaks during Christmas and New Year’s. That’s good news for tourism-related businesses all up and down this coast, as it will remove a major headache for visitors trying to go anywhere.

The one-lane bridge has long been a regional bottleneck, affecting all traffic passing through from the north (Las Catalinas, Potrero, Flamingo) or the south (Reserva Conchal, Huacas, Playa Grande, Tamarindo). Long lines of cars, trucks and buses used to line up here every day, all day, waiting for the single-lane bridge to clear. Soon they should be able to breeze right through.

The new bridge will be 25 meters (82 feet) long and 10.6 meters (35 feet) wide. Each of the two new lanes will be 3.54 meters (11 feet) wide. There will also be sidewalks on both sides with rails to protect pedestrians from traffic.


Community reaction

Virtually nobody is saying this bridge replacement was a bad idea, though plenty of people in the Brasilito area have had thoughts recently about the detour. 

“The detour around Brasilito is again downgraded to the biggest insult to the people,” says one Facebook comment by Corne M. Dolmans. “School started, people migrate, businesses are losing money, and the road is a total disaster.”

But another poster, Renate Pfleiderer, replied, “What? I was just now in Huacas, fast in and out and the road is good in my opinion, closed my windows.”

View of car on the detour road
The detour road is called “La Borrachera,” which means “the drunkenness,” and these potholes might make you feel that way. PHOTO: CORNE M. DOLMANS

One person has nicknamed this detour the “Brasilito Speedway,” as many drivers speed through this detour like it was the Indy 500.

Said one poster, Ann Lankford: “If the police would patrol the roads and fine the dangerous, reckless drivers, they would have plenty of money to repair the roads — and save lives!”

View of overturned car
An overturned vehicle on an alternate detour through Tempate illustrates the dangers of speeding here too.

Kelly Sturgeon, however, had high hopes for the bridge: “I walked through that area yesterday on my way to Masala Indian Restaurant Brasilito. They were humming along, spreading everything out. The approaches are going to be nice.”

For the latest rants and raves, feel free to visit the Facebook page called Brasilito’s bridge repairs updates and waiting time


A pastor counts his blessings

Perry Carlile, pastor of the Beach Community Church, received a gift from heaven when workers installed the old one-lane bridge from downtown over a creek next to his church, right at the southern end of the detour. He is very grateful for this, as it allows any kind of vehicle to cross the creek, even when it’s swollen by rains.

The rest of the detour, however, isn’t holding up well to the wear and tear of constant use by thousands of vehicles.

“I’ve been gone for two weeks, and I came back and the road really stinks,” said Brother Perry.

“The part down by the church had been paved from the road to the bridge, and that was sweet. But going around to the rest of the detour, it’s pretty bumpy.”

The complaints about speeding are legitimate, he said. “There’s people griping and complaining and sometimes rightfully so — there’s a lot of people driving pretty fast there.”

Perry looks forward to the “Promised Land” of a finished bridge downtown that will put this dusty, potholed detour out of business.

“Like the proverbial tube of toothpaste, life squeezes and what is inside comes out,” he said. “At least we get a nice road and bridge to the church.”

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